Benefits must appeal to all generations of the workforce

This article has been supplied by Mattioli Woods

Each generation has its own concerns and priorities and being able to select and tailor their benefits to meet these needs has significant value. Ensuring that every pound is appreciated rather than being spent on benefits that may have little or no value to a particular employee, helps the individual and the organisation.


With increasing diversity in the workforce and the removal of the default retirement age of 65, an employer may be taking on school and university leavers aged 18 and 21 as well as recruiting experienced individuals later in life.

Help Generation Y with financial obligations

Members of Generation Y (those born in the 1980s and 1990s), because of their age and the influence of the internet, demand quick results. These younger individuals are likely to be preoccupied with covering monthly living expenses and fulfilling their financial obligations, such as student loans.

As a result, these employees may be more likely to appreciate and select benefits that can reduce their direct expenses and have a low tax impact. Benefits such as voluntary discounts and voucher or card discount schemes may be most attractive. Dental and travel insurance may also be helpful.

Generation X has family priorities

Generation Xers (those born after the baby boomers, roughly from the mid-1960s to early 1980s) are self-reliant and more concerned with getting results quickly by simplifying processes. They helped revolutionise the use of technology and expect it to be used in the communication and selection of their benefits.

Those in Generation X have more family-oriented concerns, such as paying for their children’s education and becoming financially stable. They may want to select a package that protects their family income and security in the event of their death or ill-health. Health cash plans may be important, as well as increasing savings, possibly into individual savings accounts (Isas) and pensions.

Baby boomers preparing for retirement

Older baby boomers, on the other hand, are preparing for the end of their working careers. Their main concerns could include saving, investing wisely in their pension scheme, financial advice on the retirement options available (of particular relevance given the Budget changes on how members can take their pension) and protection in the event of a serious medical crisis.

For this reason, packages providing extra medical benefits or health checks could be more appealing. This is still the largest segment of the employment market today and recent studies suggest boomers intend to continue to work well into their golden years.

Benefits for seniors

Seniors, those over age 65 (or state pension age), are a growing part of the workforce, however some benefits, such as life cover and income protection, may become very expensive to provide. Seniors value experience and reputation, and are, as a whole, used to having comprehensive health benefits. Understandably, they may be concerned about healthcare, long-term care and retirement benefits. Private medical insurance can be valuable and, in some cases, offered at a fraction of the cost at which individuals could obtain cover outside a group scheme.

Evaluate employee benefits plans

As these staff members evaluate the employee benefits plans available through their organisations, employers may want to help them by improving benefits communications and offering access to advice. If businesses clearly explain all the options to their employees, the staff concerned will be more likely to select a package that offers the benefits most important to them, their age and personal situation.

The fact is that employers and their HR managers must navigate a complicated workplace that is, for the first time, composed of four generations of workers. We must develop a deep understanding of the needs and desires of both younger and older employees, and construct and design benefits packages (and, most likely, flexible benefits packages) that meet multiple goals at once.

James Bolton is director employee benefits (south) at Mattioli Woods